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Increasing Crime

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That the number of crimes is increasing in Uttarakhand should be a matter for concern for the State Government and the police officials. Uttarakhand has enjoyed a good reputation as one of the more ‘civilised’ among the northern states, which pays dividends economically, particularly in the education and tourism sectors. Unfortunately, there are factors on the rise that are creating challenges on the law and order front. Internally, the much vaunted culture of the state has been on the decline because of growing urbanisation, where relations among people have become very largely impersonalised. The pressure to make a living has made people less sensitive to the difficulties others face. This gives rise to what might be described as ‘social crimes’, particularly the many kinds of violence against women. The other primary factor, of course, is that the state’s plains are a soft target for the criminals of Western UP. It may be noted that those responsible for certain kinds of ‘professional’ crimes have often been identified as belonging to these neighbouring districts. The police in the state have failed to analyse the situation and develop mechanisms that can respond adequately. Even though the rate of solving crime has gone up because of technological advancements such as widespread use of CCTVs and ability to track mobile phones, this does not seem to have deterred the criminals. Another reason for the failure is the continuing nexus between police at the chowki and thana level with professional criminals involved in mining, liquor and drug smuggling, and other lucrative transgressions of the law. The layered police hierarchy keeps this part of the police force cocooned from the senior officials – its only requirement is to keep the ‘hafta’ earnings flowing upwards, proportionately, no questions asked. This prevents the honest officials from undertaking any meaningful reforms. Another failure has been the inability of India’s police force as a whole to develop training modules in tune with the requirements. By and large, the system functions as it did in the times of the British Raj. The science of forensics has not been developed to suit the Indian conditions. One needs only to witness cops at a crime scene in India to understand how little they know. Even the most basic protocols are not followed; there is too much dependence on forced confessions obtained at the thanas and then reverse engineering of evidence. It is no wonder then, that once the social barriers against criminal behaviour collapse, the police are found greatly wanting.